According to researchers, the presence of literature in the home had a profound effect on all families, irrespective of parental occupation or social class.
It suggests that filling homes with a range of novels and reference books may be the difference between leaving school at 18 and going to university, which can be worth up to £200,000 more in lifetime earnings.
"You get a lot of 'bang for your book'," said Dr Evans. "It's quite a good return on investment in a time of scarce resources."
The report – published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility – also revealed that having as few as 20 books in the home still had an impact.
In some countries, such as China, having 500 or more books in the home added more than six years onto a child’s education, while the effect in the United States was just over two years.
Preliminary findings suggested that history and science texts had the greatest benefit.
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